Murdo Fraser is one of four candidates along with Glasgow list MSP Ruth Davidson, transport spokesman Jackson Carlaw and Central Scotland list MSP Margaret Mitchell.
Miss Goldie released a statement saying she rejected Mr Fraser’s plan, which he claims will revitalise the party. He retaliated yesterday by claiming the Tories risked becoming the size of the Greens unless members “get real”.
He predicts that, if the party continues to lose regional list votes at the rate it has been doing since 1999, it will be reduced to less than 7% of the vote.
Mr Fraser said: “I, and thousands of members like me, have worked tirelessly for decades for this party. The least the members deserve is to know the unvarnished, unspun truth about the state we’re in.
“The reality is that, despite having popular and effective leaders such as Annabel Goldie and David McLetchie, we go backwards at every election.
“We have lost well over 100,000 votes since devolution, and if our trend goes on we will be reduced to a rump like the Greens and the SSP used to be.”
The Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP John Lamont hit back at Mr Fraser, accusing him of insulting “hard-working candidates and activists across Scotland”.
Mr Lamont, campaign manager for Ms Davidson, said: “No-one is disputing the party has been in serious decline, but surely as the deputy leader he has to accept some responsibility for what has happened.”